This will be a brief one… Not least because the exploits of the day have already been well documented on popular cricket-related podcasts and various social media channels. I will do my best to highlight the key points from the day, however.
We’d travelled to the same ground earlier in the year, only to have a man with a terrible haircut and big pair of wellies ruin our day. We’d also played this exact opposition the weekend before and, frankly, they’d rolled over to have their tummies tickled. Which was a shame really, as they’re actually a decent bunch who can play. As Skipper on this day, all I was hoping for from them was a sense of embarrassment and duty to upkeep the integrity of the League, that would see a considerable improvement from them in their performance. With Ploughmans on the brink of an historical third League title, surely they’d try and make us work for it?
The truth is, they did improve. A couple of decent contributions with the bat got them to somewhere near respectability but others still showed very little self-control and did rather make it easy for us. That, sadly, was a fairly common trend all season with a few exceptions here and there. That said, we have shone so brightly at times that we have simply blinded teams with our talent, competitive nature and sheer pigheadedness. And probably the best thing about this League season is how many individuals have contributed with match winning performances.
On this occasion there were three standout players for us. In my view, the best one being Oli Lonsdale. A man, who netted relentlessly and played with a big heart all Summer and, even though he had to bide his time, never dropped his head and took his chance ruthlessly when it came. With Bush off at his sister’s neighbour’s third cousin’s workmate’s wedding (or some other similar appointment), Ash Paul required another opening partner. All week I knew that was going to be Oli, and when I gave him the cherry and asked him to steam in and show us what he can do, he didn’t disappoint. We were all nervous but when I asked the boys to embrace that nervous energy and use it as a positive, no one took that on board more than Oli. The simple fact is he settled all our nerves by ripping out Ottershaw’s top order, bowling with good heat and real intent to do some damage. He set up the win and really deserved a fivefer but some noddy got a bit swept up in the moment and forgot to bring him back quick enough to mop up the tail! He did, though, have the final word with a glorious run out from the deep.
So, in reply to the oppo’s 117 all out, all we needed were some calm heads and some efficient, risk-free, batting. Iskandar opened with Britto, and Adam (who was in really good nick the second half the season) came in at 3. We didn’t have it all our own way though as those three fell in reasonably quick time, with us 80 short of our target. Enter the other two standout contributors on the day – the classy and composed Chris Butlin and the ruthless and belligerent Max Gumpert. At drinks they’d steadied the ship really nicely and Max, in particular, had a game face on that just oozed confidence and control of the situation. In the end they made it look pretty easy and it wasn’t long before the WhatsApp group got noisier and noisier, as we edged closer and closer to the league title. As our innings went past the hundred mark the fielding team’s body language belied their fate, as Chris and Max’s partnership snatched all hope from them as they picked the bowling apart and stamped our authority on proceedings. Chris made 36* and Max 40* and, although both have scored more in other matches this season, none were more important or meaningful than these.
Cue fizzy stuff being sprayed everywhere and an hour long drive back to DSG to start the celebrations properly.
The table doesn’t lie at the end of the day. We were the best team in the division and we deserved to win it. Can we retain our title next season though? That’s the next challenge.